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Volume 24 No. 158


Consultants from Foley & Lardner and AECOM "have narrowed the list of recommended sites" for a new Bills stadium to the four best ones, and it appears that all finalists "are within Erie County," according to a front-page piece by Tom Precious of the BUFFALO NEWS. A source said that the consultants' report for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration "is still being finalized, and it also will lay out the possibility for renovation of Ralph Wilson Stadium along the lines of the re-construction" at Lambeau Field and Arrowhead Stadium. The price tag for further renovation of the current stadium, "depending on the level of gutting and reconstruction of the bowls, was not revealed" yesterday. The report’s recommendations "are meant to serve as a road map for the team and NFL as they consider various stadium possibilities." The study "examined 13 potential sites from Batavia to Niagara Falls." The report "is intended for two audiences: government officials, both state and county, who are likely to be asked to provide some financial package for a new stadium, and the team’s new owner" (BUFFALO NEWS, 8/27).

ISC "might not be done removing grandstand seats at its 13 speedways due to the decline in NASCAR's popularity," according to Jim Peltz of the L.A. TIMES. The company already has "slashed the number of seats at its venues -- in some cases by up to 46% -- in the last 18 months." ISC Vice Chair & CEO Lesa France Kennedy when asked if the company was done with its reductions said, "Maybe not. We'll see how that goes." She added over time there will be more seats removed, but that is "dependent on the market" where each track is located. Peltz writes after ISC "aggressively expanded as NASCAR's popularity climbed" around 10 years ago, it discovered it has "far too many empty seats at NASCAR races." That has "not only hurt admissions revenue but limited ISC's ability to raise ticket prices." Auto Club Speedway was cut from 92,000 seats in '09 to its current capacity of 68,000, a drop of 26%. Elsewhere, Talladega Superspeedway reduced capacity by 45% (143,000 to 78,000 seats) and Michigan Int'l Speedway was cut by 46% (131,000 to 71,000). SMI also has "struggled with excess seating capacity." France Kennedy said that in "some cases, ISC has converted the areas where seats were removed into fan zones or sponsor areas with food, exhibits and entertainment aimed at enhancing the racing event for the fans" (L.A. TIMES, 8/27).

LIFE'S A BEACH: The developers of the One Daytona mixed-use complex that is set to break ground later this year said that France Kennedy "has been actively involved -- both weighing in on the design standards for One Daytona as well as personally participating in efforts to recruit national retailers, restaurants and hotels." Jacoby Development Managing Dir Brian Leary: "To say she’s rolling up her sleeves would be an understatement." In Daytona Beach, Clayton Park noted both the Daytona Rising project and the $289M initial phase for One Daytona -- which "will include a 12-screen Cobb Theatres movie complex called the Daytona Theatre, a Bass Pro Shops store and a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel -- are scheduled for completion" in '16 (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 8/23).

JUMP IN BROADCAST REVENUE: ISC will see its broadcast revenue increase to $316M a year in '15 courtesy of NASCAR’s 10-year, $8.2B rights deal with Fox and NBC. The total represents a 3.8% increase from the $304M ISC will receive this year under NASCAR’s expiring TV contracts with Fox and ESPN. The TV revenue it receives will increase annually by an average of 3.9% over the life of the deal. In a public statement issued today, ISC said that the “sport’s only shared revenue model” will stay the same under the new TV deal with tracks receiving 65% of revenue, teams receiving 25% and NASCAR receiving 10%. That split has been criticized by several team owners in recent years, and NASCAR has been asked several times about whether or not it would change under the new contract. But the sanctioning body has said repeatedly it doesn’t plan to change the split. France Kennedy in a statement said, “Broadcast rights represent ISC’s largest revenue segment and these recent deals provide us the long-term visibility to continue investing in our business to the benefit of our fans, partners and local communities while continuing to build shareholder value" (Tripp Mickle, Staff Writer).

The city of Las Vegas "would be responsible" for more than $150M -- or more than 75% -- of the cost of a $200M, 24,000-seat soccer stadium in Symphony Park that would be built for a possible MLS team, according to a term sheet cited in a front-page piece by Alan Snel of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. The term sheet "contradicts a press release distributed Tuesday by the city and its two private soccer stadium partners, which stated, '59 percent of these (stadium) costs would be privately financed.'" The city said that the soccer stadium and team term sheet "will be discussed at a City Council meeting on Sept. 3." The term sheet outlines a $302M project budget, which includes $102M for team equity; $44.25M "for developer contribution for the soccer stadium;" and $155.75M from the public, including $114.75M for stadium bonds. City of Las Vegas Communications Dir David Riggleman explained that the public, "in the end, will contribute only" 41% toward the stadium because the partnership between Findlay Sports & Entertainment and Cordish Cos. "will help the city pay off the project’s debt service." The new stadium project "will not move forward unless the Findlay-Cordish partnership lands an MLS team" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 8/27). In Las Vegas, Ray Brewer reports Findlay S&E and Cordish "will pay for costs associated with overruns to build the stadium, and Findlay-Cordish will be responsible for operating losses over 30 years of the lease." Developers said that PPL Park is 60% publicly funded, while Sporting Park is 75% publicly funded and Toyota Park is 100% publicly funded (LAS VEGAS SUN, 8/27).

REBEL YELL: The LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL's Snel cites a Kimley Horn engineering study as identifying "two viable" UNLV stadium sites, "with one requiring realignment of Swenson Street to accommodate a facility southwest of the Thomas & Mack Center." Moving Swenson would cost either $107M or $115.8M, "depending on which of two realignment options is chosen." Engineers also "checked out a second potential stadium site -- a 42-acre, off-campus private site off Tropicana Avenue on the east side of Koval Lane." Engineers estimated that this site's cost would be $49.8M, "excluding land acquisition," which could be in the $55M range. Wells Fargo & Co. owns the site. The Kimley Horn report "will be presented to the UNLV stadium board" tomorrow (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 8/27).

The Triple-A Int'l League Buffalo Bisons on Friday announced that they are "embarking on a multiyear, multimillion-dollar renovation plan" of their downtown ballpark, with Phase I "consisting of the installation of 3,700 new seats in the special reserved sections from dugout to dugout," according to Mike Harrington of the BUFFALO NEWS. The project "will begin the day after" the team's season ends and "will take two to three months." The city of Buffalo is "footing the $758,000 bill." Bisons President Jonathan Dandes said that the team "hopes to unveil a master plan of changes for the ballpark in the next couple of months." Populous "is currently finalizing its recommendations" for the renovations. Dandes said that the team’s timetable "is for the entire project to last two to four years." He confirmed that the team will "be replacing all of the roughly 17,000-plus seats in the ballpark, which has a capacity of 18,025 when party areas are included." Harrington noted replacing the seats alone "could approach" $4M. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said that the city "plans to make continued contributions to help fund future phases" of the renovations. The Bisons have already invested $23M in the ballpark since it opened in '88 and "did not specify how much they expect this project to cost." But they "will be looking for assistance" from New York state (BUFFALO NEWS, 8/23).

Michigan-based General Sports & Entertainment Founder Andy Appleby last week "unveiled plans to build" an $8-10M ballpark in Utica, Mich., that would open in '15 or '16, according to Bill Shea of CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS. Appleby is also "creating an independent league of three developmental teams to jointly use the 2,500-seat stadium for a May-September schedule." He intends to "lease the stadium out for events." The company for "several years owned" the Single-A Midwest League Fort Wayne Wizards. GSE said that it is "using its prior baseball management experience as a business template for the new venture." GSE Dir of Research & Strategy Zain Masters said, "The financial model for this project was based on the Fort Wayne Wizards -- operationally speaking, it is similar, but it cannot be specifically compared." Shea noted other "potential revenue-generating uses for the ballpark are envisioned for the stadium, including fireworks, concerts, graduation ceremonies, Little League games, youth soccer games and high school sports." Masters said that "installing an ice skating rink on the field during the winter is another possibility." GSE "isn't disclosing a timeline for the project to show a profit." Appleby said that his experience with the minor-league club is "fueling his desire to do the Utica project." He wrote in an e-mail, "We fell in love with minor-league baseball when we owned the Fort Wayne Wizards, and ever since then we thought that metro Detroit would be a perfect market for this sort of project." GSE is "paying the entire cost of the stadium and mixed-use development." Masters said the project will be "financed through a mixture of equity and debt." He added that "no local public money or tax breaks are involved" (, 8/24).

The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Brian Costa writes one of the "most noticeable additions to the U.S. Open this year is the elevated seating overlooking the practice courts and courts 4, 5 and 6." But the "best-kept secret of the tournament may be the long corridor beneath the new seats." The corridor "offers the rarest commodity of the day: a spot in the shade." From the "edge of the covered walkway, fans can watch practices through a mesh screen within several feet of the nearest player." The mesh "is slightly tinted, but is transparent enough that some fans have been taking photos and video of top players through the screen" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/27).

SPRING FEVER: In West Palm Beach, Joe Capozzi noted the Astros and Nationals next month "are scheduled to make their first formal pitch" for at least $3M a year in hotel tax money to help pay for a new Spring Training ballpark in the city. Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council Exec Dir Glenn Jergensen said that the teams "will meet with the Palm Beach County Tourist Development Board on Sept. 11 to discuss financing options for their proposed" $140M facility. County officials have suggested allocating $2.6-$3M a year for 20 years to "pay off bonds that would help finance the construction of the facility." But the teams are "said to be seeking more" than $3M a year, a "potential sticking point" (PALM BEACH POST, 8/26).